The number of arrests following the ghastly killing of two Scandinavian hikers has reached 19, spurring fears of far-reaching consequences for the Moroccan economy, which is heavily reliant on tourism.
The recent batch of arrests conducted in connection with the macabre murder of Louisa Vesterager Jespersen (24) of Denmark and Maren Ueland (28) of Norway include the alleged ringleader of the terrorist group, the head of Morocco’s central office for judicial investigation, Abdelhak Khiam, said, as quoted by AFP.
Investigators said that the terrorist cell, dismantled through a series of arrests in several cities, was made up of 19 members, including three with terror-related criminal records.
Abdessamad Ejjoud, a 25-year-old street vendor living on the outskirts of Marrakesh, was identified as the “emir” of the group. According to Khiam, Ejjoud had formed a cell that discussed how to carry out a terrorist act inside the kingdom, targeting the security services or foreign tourists.
Ejjoud was said to appear in a video shot a week before the murders, in which four main suspects are seen pledging an oath of allegiance to Daesh* and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi with a black Daesh flag hanging in the background.
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Under the influence of their “emir”, the group is said to have specifically chosen the Imlil region frequented by tourists, where…